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The way forward after Regulation 14 Consultation

Responses from the Regulation 14 Consultation must be received by 5pm on Friday 28th June 2024. The Steering Group will then consider all the responses and if the Plan should be modified or amended as a result. That review will culminate in the production of the Regulation 16 version. 

We have to have that plan ready by the end of July for Full Council to approve. 

Between then and now the Steering Group will prepare two important additional Evidence Base items:

  • The Basic Conditions Statement, which explains how our Plan complies with:
    • Basic legal requirements determine primarily in Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2021 (as amended);
    • National Planning Policy Framework (2023);
    • National Planning Practice Guidance; 
    • Written Ministerial Statements;
    • Contributing to the achievement of sustainable development;
    • General conformity with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s Strategic Planning Policies, as defined in the Welwyn Hatfield Local Plan 2016-2036 (October 2023);
    • Remaining relevant EU legislation.
  • The Consultation Statement, which explains how we have consulted with various groups (such as residents, businesses, statutory bodies, developers, landowners and other stakeholders) as appropriate and considered their views.

We plan for these documents to be ready by the end of July for Full Council to approve. 

Once approved by Full Council, the complete set of Regulation 14 documents will be formally submitted to the Planning Department of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council for their action under Regulations 16 and 17 of the same Act. 

We plan for this handover to be in early August. 

From this point the Parish Council has no control or involvement. Following some basic checks to ensure compliance with the above mentioned requirements, a further consultation exercise is carried out with statutory bodies and other stakeholders. Any representations received from that, together with the previously submitted documents, are passed to the independent examiner appointed by the Borough Council. 

That independent examiner is a qualified planning inspector who will review the material and information submitted and determine if the Plan is compliant  and has covered any representations made. As part of that work they may visit the aera and test assertations or aspects in the Plan before writing a formal report that could recommend either: 

  1. That the Plan if fit and can be the subject of a local referendum of residents; or
  2. That with modification or amendments specified, the Plan would be fit and be subject of a local referendum of residents; or
  3. The Plan is not fit and should be redrafted, with the whole process re started. 

Assuming that option 2 is the result (most plans earn that status) we would anticipate a rapid turn around to resubmit to the independent examiner the “Referendum Version” of the Plan and also make that available for public scrutiny.

We expect the report to be with us in early 2025 and for submission of the Referendum version plan to be in Q1 2025, with the target date for the referendum itself to be in March/April 2025.

The referendum is a simple YES/NO to the question of should the Neighbourhood Plan be adopted by residents. If a simple majority decide that it should then the Borough Council have to declare the Plan as “made” as soon as possible and adopt it formally into their planning legislation. At that point the process is complete and we will have a document with legal power to use in connection with any planning consent request submitted, small or large.